Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aging eyes linked to sleepless nights, new study shows

Date:
September 6, 2011
Source:
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Summary:
A natural yellowing of the eye lens that absorbs blue light has been linked to sleep disorders in a group of test volunteers. The connection could help explain why sleep disorders become more frequent with increasing age.

A natural yellowing of the eye lens that absorbs blue light has been linked to sleep disorders in a group of test volunteers, according to a study in the September 1 issue of the journal Sleep. As this type of lens discoloration worsened with age, so did the risk of insomnia.

"The strong link between lens yellowing and age could help explain why sleep disorders become more frequent with increasing age," said Line Kessel, M.D., Ph.D., the study's lead author.

In the Danish study, 970 volunteers had their eyes examined by lens autofluorometry, a non-invasive method for determining how much blue light is transmitted into the retina. Blue light is a portion of the visible-light spectrum that influences the normal sleep cycle by helping initiate the release of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that helps signal to the body when it is time to be sleepy or alert.

Volunteers were considered to have a sleep disorder if they confirmed that they "often suffer from insomnia" or if they purchased prescription sleeping pills within the last 12 months. Of those classified as having a sleep disturbance, 82.8 percent affirmed that they both suffered from insomnia and used sleep medication.

Using this data, researchers calculated an inverse relationship between blue light transmission and the risk of having sleep disturbances: the lower the blue light transmission into the retina due to a yellowing of the eye lens, the greater the risk of sleep disturbances.

"The results showed that while age-related lens yellowing is of relatively little importance for visual function, it may be responsible for insomnia in the elderly," said Kessel, a senior scientist in the Department of Opthalmology at Glostrup Hospital in Denmark.

Significantly higher rates of sleep disorders were reported by older participants, women, smokers and those with diabetes mellitus. Previous studies have shown that the rate of lens aging is accelerated in smokers, patients with diabetes mellitus and those at high risk for ischemic heart diseases. The Danish researchers addressed these factors in their statistical analyses.

"The association between blue light lens transmission and sleep disturbances remained significant even after we corrected for age, sex, diabetes mellitus, smoking and the risk of ischemic heart disease," Kessel said.

She said another important factor to consider is that sleep quality has been shown to improve after cataract surgery. "The transmission of blue light currently cannot be improved by any other method than cataract surgery. I΄m involved with another research project where we try non-invasively to remove the yellow color of the lens using a laser, but the method is not yet developed for clinical use," Kessel said.

In the meantime, Kessel said it seemed prudent to recommend that physicians reconsider the prescription of sleeping tablets in patients who have undergone cataract surgery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kessel L; Siganos G; Jψrgensen T; Larsen M. Sleep disturbances are related to decreased transmission of blue light to the retina caused by lens yellowing. Sleep, 2011;34(9):1215-1219

Cite This Page:

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Aging eyes linked to sleepless nights, new study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901093646.htm>.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2011, September 6). Aging eyes linked to sleepless nights, new study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901093646.htm
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Aging eyes linked to sleepless nights, new study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901093646.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins